Jon Stewart went from The Daily Show to a weekly show to no show.
Apple TV+ has reportedly canceled the former Comedy Central host’s current affairs program The Problem after two seasons. According to The New York Times, production on season three was already underway when the tech giant pulled the plug.
On Friday’s show, Megyn was joined by Daily Mail columnist Dave Marcus to discuss the news and where Stewart went wrong.
After his 16-year run at The Daily Show ended in 2015, Stewart announced a partnership with Apple in 2020. The multi-year production deal purportedly included what became The Problem and other development projects via Stewart’s Busboy Productions.
Season one debuted in fall 2021 with a bi-weekly format, while season two aired weekly beginning in October 2022. According to EW, The Problem with Jon Stewart was the number one unscripted series on Apple TV+ in October 2021. Samba TV reported 180,000 viewers tuned in the first week but the figure dropped 78 percent to just 40,000 by the fifth episode.
The Times reported that Stewart informed his staff on Thursday that the show would not be returning for an eight-episode season three as planned due to creative differences with the iPhone maker. Apple allegedly pushed back on topics involving China and artificial intelligence.
While Stewart served as executive producer of the program, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that there was tension behind the scenes after Apple informed the comedian that both sides needed to be “aligned” on the content of the show. Stewart apparently balked at the idea of ceding creative control.
What Went Wrong
The premise of The Problem was to examine “America’s most persistent problems” and try “to find solutions with people at the highest levels of power.” Topics included gun control, climate change, racism, and “the war on gender.”
The latter featured a now viral exchange in which Stewart weighed in on the ‘what is a woman’ debate during an interview with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. While Rutledge suggested that there was a lack of consensus among experts on the prudence of cross-sex hormones for minors and that many children “grow out” of their gender dysphoria, Stewart claimed the analysis was “not true” and “an incredibly made up thing.” At the time, Megyn called out Stewart’s “douchebaggery” for dismissing the claims without grounds.
While the cancellation is being painted as creative differences, Megyn isn’t so sure. “It’s actually kind of funny, if true, that Apple doesn’t want reporting on China,” she said. “But I would submit that it’s more likely as a result of things like that clip.”
In Marcus’ view, Stewart hosting The Daily Show was something “we’d all tune in” for because there were funny moments, but he also believes the comedian is “one of the reasons why the news media is in the horrible state that it is.”
Stewart began presenting the news, in Marcus’ words, as though “there was only one reasonable viewpoint in the world.” He believes that changed television. “We went from a media that used to have Crossfire, where a very smart liberal and a very smart conservative would argue with each other, to The Daily Show where snarky Jon Stewart would just tell us all what to think,” he said. “So pardon me if I won’t be mourning the loss of his show.”
Megyn agreed. “No one is in the market for your nasty disinformation that bashes, uniformly, one side,” she concluded. “On behalf of all real women who care about their children and the nonsense that he was just spewing, good riddance.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Marcus and Pollak by tuning in to episode 652 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.